My version turned out sweet enough to fall in the breakfast dessert category, but it doesn’t overpower with that sugar-is-the-second-ingredient-sweetness that seems to stay with you all day long, no matter how many times you brush your teeth. And the sweet vanilla pastry complements, rather than overpowers the flavor of the jam inside. I especially recommend mixing strawberry and raspberry jam together; my youngest daughter somehow became obsessed with combining strawberries and raspberries whenever possible, so I gave it a try to make her extra happy. These little hearts are not the kind of breakfast I’d serve my kids everyday. I know that they are really just cookies best toasted before eating. In any case, I’d much rather have them beg me to bake them something special than listen to them plead for junk food at the store.
As I child, I remember begging my mom to buy me Cocoa Puffs and Coca Cola and Twinkies at the grocery store. She never bought them. Not once. Not ever. Telling her that other kids’ moms bought their children such delicacies didn’t help a bit. She never budged. My mom wasn’t opposed to sweets; without fail, we indulged in dessert every night. Usually we finished our dinner with a generous bowl of ice cream, but often my mom served up some seriously awesome dessert she’d made — flourless chocolate tart with fresh raspberry sauce, blackberry pie, almond cake, or grasshopper pie, just to name a few. Now that I have kids of my own, I often avoid the cereal aisle so I don’t have to hear them beg for Cookie Crisps or Froot Loops. Sure, I remember how much I pined for such foods when I was small, but like my mother before me, I now can’t imagine how anyone thinks they taste good. I refuse to cave in and buy sugary cereals or sodas or snacks because I know that, if I even once back down, I’ll never hear the end of it. But here’s the upside — since we refrain from indulging on sugary breakfasts, snacks, and beverages all day long, I feel okay about serving cake or pie or tart for dessert after dinner. I feel compelled to add a small point of clarification here. When I say “we refrain from indulging,” I am not including my husband. He drinks soda. He snacks on handfuls of chocolate chips regularly as an afternoon snack. And when he goes the the store with our daughters, they occasionally come home with some crap I would never buy. Like Pop-Tarts. When they busted out Pop-Tarts for breakfast one morning not so long ago, they raved about them so much that I felt compelled to give one a try. My instincts proved correct; the sugary sweetness overpowered any “fruit” flavor the filling was supposed to have, and my teeth actually hurt as I chewed, making me worry that they were decaying on contact. I handed the remains of the Pop-Tart to my husband, who immediately devoured it with a smile. When these cookies-masquerading-as-breakfast finally disappeared, my children looked heartbroken. They recognized that it might take a while to sucker their dad into buying more, and they knew, no matter how they asked, that I would never, ever buy them. And they were right. They never dreamed, though, that I would try to make them.